A ball is yet to be kicked at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but one of the biggest stories of the tournament has already erupted after Spain decided to sack head coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday.

The Spanish Football Federation made the decision to sack Lopetegui one day before the start of the 2018 World Cup after he accepted the Real Madrid coaching job without informing the association.

The 51-year-old was confirmed as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday and his actions have seen him being dismissed as the coach of Spain, who are one of the favorites going into the tournament in Russia.

Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales confirmed the decision during a press conference Wednesday and revealed they were forced to take the decision after Lopetegui failed to inform them about his decision to accept the Real coaching job.

Julen Lopetegui
Julen Lopetegui sacked by Spain a day before the World Cup. In this picture, Spain national football team coach Lopetegui reacts during a press conference at Krasnodar's stadium on the eve of the international friendly match against Tunisia, June 8, 2018. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images

“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish you the greatest of luck," Rubiales said, as quoted by BBC Sport.

"The negotiation has occurred without any information to the RFEF. Just five minutes before the press release. There's a way to act that needs to be fulfilled,” he added talking about being unaware about Lopetegui’s impending Real appointment.

Spain will take on Portugal in their first group stage game on Friday and it remains to be seen, who will be at the helm. Rubiales is said to have been angered by the coach’s actions, more so, because it was just 21 days before that they reached an agreement for Lopetegui to remain head coach of the Spanish national team until 2020.

The Spanish Federation president made it clear that such behavior will not be acceptable when it comes to matters of the national team. He is certain that his actions will be criticized in the short-term, but is confident that it will make the team stronger in the long run.

“It's the Spanish team. You can not do things this way,” Rubiales added. "I admire Julen a lot, I respect him a lot, I think he's a top trainer and that makes it more difficult to make the decision. I don't feel betrayed. Lopetegui, while he's been with us, has done impeccable work."

"I know it's a very difficult situation. I know there's going to be criticism whatever I do. I'm sure this will, in time, make us stronger,” he said.

According to the Telegraph, the Spain players led by Sergio Ramos tried to intervene and ensure Lopetegui remained the coach at least until the end of their World Cup campaign. But their pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears as the RFEF made it clear that they will not entertain such behavior.